(Skipper Ireson's Ride by Will Hicok Low (1853-1932) at the Albany Institute of History and Art.)

This is a painful story.

The schooner Betsy had been on a fishing expedition on Cape Cod when it came upon the schooner Active in danger of sinking during a storm. Upon its return to Marblehead, Massachusetts, its sailor began to spread the rumor that their captain Ireson had told them to pass by without helping the schooner Active. On October 30, 1808, the people of Marblehead took matters into their own hands. They tar and feathered the captain and paraded him around town and beyond.

As it turned out he was accused falsely. Another ship who rescued some of the sailors from the sinking Active told a different story. "Ireson ordered his crew to assist the stricken vessel, but they refused, afraid to risk their lives in the dark, stormy ocean. Powerless to enforce his order, Ireson then instructed the crew to heave to and let the Betsy stay in place. In the morning they would assist the Active. When Skipper Ireson went below to sleep, however, the crew disobeyed him and sailed away toward home. ... "When finally freed, Ireson had little to say, according to Samuel Roads' The History and Traditions of Marblehead, telling the assembled crowd: "I thank you for my ride, gentlemen, but you will live to regret it."

This lie cost the skipper pain both in body and soul. This lie meant also a troubled conscience for those who had lied and regret for those who acted hastily in punishing the the skipper Ireson. Ireson could have hated the people but he did not thus preserving his soul from the sin and pain of hatred.

On the surface sin may be pleasurable but it is already pain because it disorders the soul and in the long run will surely turn to pain even when the sin is forgiven by God.


3. Suffering and Sacrifice